Posts Tagged With: SOAP

Laughing at God (Life Journal – January 7, 2015)

Scripture

“Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”  But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:14-15 NRSV)

Observation

Abraham recognizes that these three men are an appearance of the Lord – or at least messengers or something special (hence the special treatment in verses 1-8). How does he know? We know because we are told the Lord appeared to him (vs. 1) but not how Abraham did.

This was no quick interaction either – the bread was made fresh, the calf was slaughtered and prepared. And Abraham doesn’t eat with them but rather stands ready to serve them as they eat what he has prepared.

Sarah’s reaction is laughter – to ridicule what the “man” says. How can this be when both of them are old? Does she still believe the promises?

Application

Yesterday I saw this Tweeted – “What are you praying for in 2015 that is so big only God can get credit when it happens?” And truthfully I had to answer – nothing. Most of my prayers are responses to specific needs in the moment – things I need, family members or friends in distress, church family members who need me and have asked for my prayers.

But do I pray for laughable things – things at which Sarah would also laugh? No – I because I laugh at God too. I laugh at the greatness, the goodness, the largeness of our Lord. I laugh or mock. I am cynical towards even my Divine Father, toward my Gracious Savior, toward the Ever-present Spirit.

And like poor Sarah I am caught out by God for my ridicule. I deny my laughter even as it is still on my lips. I deny my gentle mockery of others and of God for such audacious hope.

Prayer

Lord of Abraham and Sarah,
whose power is greater than my imagination of it,
whose promises are more enduring than my mockery of them,
whose presence sees into my heart and my unbelief:

Give me bold dreams, dreams as great as the on you gave to Abraham and Sarah. Give me courage to pray for what you would do that only you can do in my life, in my relationships, in my church, in my community, in my world.

May my laughter be replaced with joy, my mockery with awe. And may I in due season see you revealed at the end of such a time of prayer.

In the name of the one who came from Abraham’s line and whose words also brought laughter and unbelief and yet proved true – Jesus, the Son. Amen.

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Transaction Denied (Life Journal – 1/6/2015)

Scripture 

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36 NRSV)

Observation

Much human relationship is transactional – Jesus speaks in this section of Luke 6 about loving those who love us, doing good to the persons who do us good, and lending to those whom we expect will repay. Something is returned from what we give – love for love, good for good, money for money. Quid pro quo.

Jesus negates transactional relationships in God’s economy – an economy based on God’s behavior not ours. Love those who will not love, be good to the ones who will not return it, lend but expect nothing back.

Application

The holidays often bring is into situations like this – where we weigh what has been done to us before we do. When past wrongs are rehearsed, when old debts of various kinds are remembered. This way that Jesus commands is hard in real human lives – the lives we live.

Do I measure my interaction by what I might gain by it? Do I evaluate someone’s worth in how much he or she is worth to me? Do I base my response on what response I think the other will give, has given, or – worse yet – what the someone deserves in my judgment? More often than I care to admit.

A reminder to me today that to love as God loves, to extend mercy as God extends mercy is my calling. God’s expectation of me.

Prayer

Merciful God, make me to love as you love – especially those whom I find it hardest to love. Make me offer good to those who most would offer me nothing or worse in response. Make me lend, give, share with those who take advantage. Make me like you in fact. More today than yesterday. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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God’s Embarrassing Posts (Life Journal – 1/1/2015)

Scripture

10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush.14 The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:10-14)

Observation

It is is easy to skip past these verses in the creation account. They are filled with mention of specific places (rivers and regions) that do not mean to us what they meant to those who first read these words. And they are so specific! A quick Google of these rivers will show you where they probably were. Which means Eden is placed in a fairly specific locale.

Application

When I was a child, my parents would say things that embarrassed me. Things I wish they hadn’t said. Usually such pronouncements were made in front of friends or family (hence the embarrassment!). Even now I can remember a few such occasions and I still feel those feelings when I recall those moments.

Looking back, however, I realize that my parents did not mean to embarrass me. Often what they said so long ago makes sense to me now although at the time I turned crimson. Sometimes I hear myself when one of children say “Dad, why did you have to say that? Couldn’t you just have kept your mouth shut?”

Sometimes we wonder why God preserved what we have in the Scriptures. Some burning questions just aren’t addressed. Some details that we crave are missing. And then we have the four rivers that branch out of the river that watered Eden.

I am reminded on this first day of a new year that some things God will reveal in time to us. Some things not in this life. Some details that made perfect sense to men and women long ago need our work to understand. And some things in the Bible, some stories just don’t make any sense. And when we are honest we might even confess we are embarrassed they made the cut.

I hope to begin this year with a deeper sense of humility and of longing. A humility that admits that I cannot and will not understand every word or story in Scripture – nor every event that this year will bring. A longing to understand and to grow closer to the One who holds the answers. Who speaks still. Who steps into my specific life and speaks to my specific situation even when I am embarrassed or shamed or convicted and wish that God has just kept quiet.

Prayer

God of Creation, who made the heavens and the earth, who caused these words to be preserved for my instruction and my transformation: make me humble in this year as I admit what I do not know and live with what I cannot understand. Give me a longing to draw nearer to You, to dig deeper into the precious words left for us in the Bible. And even when I wish you would remain silent or would speak more… may I remember my earthly parents, too, and thank You for them as I thank You for knowing what to say to me and when to say it. Amen.

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